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Skinny Hightower — Emotions

May 22, 2017

On the heels of a well-produced classy & funky debut release just last year, pianist/composer/producer Skinny Hightower returns intent on establishing his very distinct brand with his new release Emotions, a confident, full-bodied release with that inherent funk element proudly on display.

With a decidedly boogie soul embedded in his competent jazzy style, Hightower shows here, as he did on his previous release Cloud Nine, that he fully knows and understands the intangible mechanics of reaching that soul that’s burning for melody, funk, and sophistication all wrapped neatly in a suave package that speaks to the groove and the heart simultaneously.

When I first sat down to take in Hightower’s new release, I’d already expected some smooth-edged funk, but I don’t know if I was prepared for what turned out to be not only some raw funk in spots but the emotion that obviously went into and drove this album from start to finish. Possessing outright killer talent on the 88s, Hightower, a Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records artist, called on a couple of labelmates, guitarist Nick Colionne and bassist Julian Vaughn, as well as guitarist David P. Stevens to flesh out this very impressive project.

One just has to enjoy the natural flow of the music here as it dances along with sassiness, swagger, melody, and rhythm. There may be a lot or air keys and guitar playing on this one as you ride along with this in your media player.

Tracks that definitely have huge appeal to me are the funky lead track with its ironic title (“Tender”) and the next five straight tracks with their varying degrees of funk and stride.

There are plenty more movers here (the CD generously offers 15 tracks in all), but you’ll actually have a good handle on the vibe long before track 15. To add to the character of the album, no two tracks resemble each other. The melodies are not only rich but fresh, and I like that immensely. An album well-conceived, unrushed, and refusing to fall into the trap of tossing in fillers and fluff just to complete the project. Each track here is alive with its own appeal and individuality.

I think Skinny Hightower, after just two records, fully knows how to impact the c-jazz community because I believe he feels it necessary to move himself first. Give a listen and see if you don’t agree. Two thumbs up! – Ronald Jackson